Around the world on bookshops – Northumberland


Barter Books is a veritable treasure trove for anyone who understands the wonder of the written word.

With a crackling fire in the colder months, a model train set running over the top of the bookshelves and an amazing array of beautiful books, Barter Books is a veritable treasure trove for anyone who understands the wonder of the written word. Housed in an old train station in the Northumberland town Alnwick - it was by fluke that we spotted a brown sign pointing to the wonderful bookshop, and decided to take a look on our way past. It was the happiest decision that could have been made in that split second.

As soon as we stepped inside, I could see that it was a magical place- with the first room complete with said fireplace, places to sit and walls and walls of books. But come into the main part of the bookshop, which fills the old station platforms- and rows and rows of beautiful old bookshelves, with reading quotes overhead and lovely lettered signs on the end of each row according to topic, and you sense something of the depth breadth that books have. The beautiful characterful roof towered far ahead as I wandered enraptured between the bookshelves, discovering treasure and magic around every corner. So huge and amazing was the choice, that we actually returned another day, to explore the wonder another time. (There is a map if you get lost!)


The whole place oozes with character, magic and wonders for any kind of reader. Whether you are an avid fiction reader and devour stories daily, prefer to stick to factual books, cookbooks, have an interest in rare editions- there is something truly for everyone. Our first daughter was just toddling as we visited- and the magical children's area has a fire engine and more books than you could hope for at one and a half (or really any age). With soft velvet sofas and cosy reading spots dotted about the place, you are invited to linger, to let your fingers graze the edges of the shelves as you survey reams and reams of books.

It is more than a place to buy books, and more than a place to pass a some pleasant minutes, or hours, if you are a bookworm like me. It is a celebration of all that writing, words and books stand for. With all kinds of books on all kinds of subjects, volumes that are hardbound, beautiful and rare, classic literature and a myriad of nonfiction subjects, it reminded me that reading really is a skill and a love that can meet anyone, whoever they are. It fits perfectly in its setting, with the local landscape full of castles, windswept beaches and little shops and towns to explore. It is everything that an independent booklover could hope to stumble upon on a grey afternoon. I left with a careful selection of books and a whole dose of inspiration for my reading life - and a desire to return immediately!  

Written by Zoe Powell"I believe that stories and books have great power to connect, inspire and encourage us in our own narratives". You can find her on Instagram.